April 5, 2024

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Scripture reminds us that ‘wisdom is vindicated by all her children’

Richard EtienneWas there someone who noticed a trait or skill in you that planted a seed leading to the career or vocation that you would eventually pursue? Or did it lead to a form of service work that you considered?

Most of us needed another’s insight regarding a gift we possess to shape our self-perception, especially during our formative years of “finding our way” in life.

As you reflect on that time, was there a special person who challenged you to grow in your faith at some point?

Who was the individual that prodded you along when you had slowed on your faith journey—possibly creating a new spark for that added fire to continue further along your spiritual path?

Is that person still living? Would they appreciate hearing from you? Has that person passed away? Can you say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the role that they played in your life?

In John’s Gospel, we hear how Nathanael responds to Philip’s revelation that they had found the Messiah, who is from Nazareth. Nathanael asks, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46)

When Jesus soon thereafter greets Nathanael, he remarks, “There is no duplicity in him” (Jn 1:47).

Nathanael asks Jesus, “How do you know me?” (Jn 1:48). Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree” (Jn 1:48).

Nathanael responds, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God” (Jn 1:49).

To me, Jesus sees in Nathanael the trait of “calling it like he sees it”—in a very straightforward manner.

We, too, are charged to do the same.

Who are the younger people in your life? What gifts do you see in them? What efforts are you making to affirm their talents and encourage these people to develop and use these gifts in the ongoing mission of building the kingdom of God?

Does someone have mechanical or carpentry skills? Are they good in mathematics, science or solving problems? Do they have strong skills in spelling? Is someone you know asking deep spiritual questions regarding the ultimate meaning of life? God needs good Christians in every area of life.

Most people will do well in life by capitalizing on their strengths and surrounding themselves with others who can assist them where they face challenges.

As disciples of Christ, we are called to nudge people forward—family, friends, and co-workers, among them—along their spiritual paths. And maybe one day—as they reflect on how you planted seeds in their life that bore fruit—they will offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the role you played.

(Richard Etienne has a degree in theology from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad and resides in Newburgh, Ind.)

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